Quinn says Brexit is un­likely to ham­per growth

The Irish Times - Business - - BUSINESS NEWS - PE­TER HAMIL­TON and BARRY O’HAL­LO­RAN

Brexit is un­likely to halt growth at ce­ment and pack­ag­ing maker Quinn In­dus­trial Hold­ings (QIH), chief ex­ec­u­tive, Liam McCaf­frey, says.

The man­u­fac­turer once con­trolled by Seán Quinn grew pre-tax prof­its by 59 per cent last year to €10.8 mil­lion as sales in­creased in Ire­land and Bri­tain.

Speak­ing after the com­pany pub­lished its re­sults, Mr McCaf­frey said that busi­ness so far this year in­di­cated it would be stronger than 2017.

Quinn ex­ports ce­ment to Bri­tain but its chief ex­ec­u­tive does not ex­pect the UK’s planned depar­ture from the EU to hin­der growth too much.

“The most dam­age would come from a pro­longed re­ces­sion in the UK as a re­sult of Brexit, but I think that’s un­likely,” he said.

Mr McCaf­frey pointed out Bri­tain has a hous­ing short­age but does not pro­duce enough con­struc­tion ma­te­ri­als to build the new homes its needs, so it must im­port them.

He also noted that even in a “worst-case” sce­nario, the tar­iffs that would ap­ply to build­ing prod­ucts such as ce­ment would be low.

New homes

Bal­ly­con­nell, Co Ca­van-based Quinn is also see­ing ev­i­dence that new home build­ing is pick­ing up in the Repub­lic.

Mr McCaf­frey said that one mar­ket for the com­pany, smaller, re­gional de­vel­op­ers build­ing five to 10 homes, were reap­pear­ing and could raise fi­nance. “I think that Ire­land will be strong for us for a few years to come,” he added.

Sales rose 7.4 per cent to €209 mil­lion. the re­sults were the third since busi­ness­men John McCartin, John Bosco O’Ha­gan and Ernie Fisher bought QIH in 2014, with back­ing from US in­vestors, Brigade Cap­i­tal, Con­trar­ian Cap­i­tal and Sil­ver Point Cap­i­tal.

Mr Quinn, the founder of the Quinn ce­ment-to-in­sur­ance em­pire, which im­ploded after his fam­ily lost bil­lions of euro in a failed bet on An­glo Ir­ish Bank shares, left the com­pany in May 2016, a year after he was hired as a con­sul­tant.

In­vest­ment fell to €7.6 mil­lion in 2017 from €11.5 mil­lion the pre­vi­ous year. QIH is spending €3 mil­lion on 33 new trucks this year. The group em­ploys 800 peo­ple across Ire­land.

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